Praying for Our Christian Family in Iraq

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Man upset, praying

If you’ve had an eye on the news lately, you’ve no doubt heard reports about the terrorist group ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria), more recently known as “The Islamic State.”

They’re a well-armed Muslim extremist group sweeping throughout Iraq, exercising both military and political control over the regions they conquer.

Just the other day we saw grisly images of the beheading of the American journalist, James Foley. ISIS claimed responsibility for his murder.

Beyond the political complications usually addressed on the nightly news are disturbing accounts that hit much closer to home for all of us who profess the name of Christ.

Ten Books Every Christian Should Read

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Mature woman lying on pier reading book, side view

Although not everybody has the luxury of enjoying a summer vacation, the season invariably lends itself to setting aside some time to read a good book. If you’re looking to pick one up, our online resource center is packed with exciting and entertaining titles.

Whatever your taste, I think you’ll find a title to your liking.

If you’re more inclined to invest in the classics (including some modern ones), the following list should be helpful to you.

Tell Us Why You’re Thankful for Your Pastor

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man wearing "Hello, my name is Pastor" sticker

The broadcast team and I are working on a program to honor our pastors, and we’d like your help.

As you may know, Focus celebrates Clergy Appreciation Month every October, a time when congregations can recognize the sacrifices, hard work and blessings of pastors and their families. These special people often live under incredible pressures. Simply put, it’s hard work being a member of the clergy.

So often pastors give up their own time to be there for their flock – giving up holidays to visit with sick people at the hospital, counseling couples through the tough times in their marriages, and helping congregants pray through milestone decisions.

Grief Without Despair: What Seattle Pacific University Students Taught Me

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young woman comforts friend

Earlier this month, a young male started shooting a gun at Seattle Pacific University, a Christian school. Before he stopped to reload his weapon, he had killed one and injured three others.

A 22-year old student, Jon Meis, put himself in harm’s way to stop the gunman from inflicting further harm. Meis used pepper spray to incapacitate the shooter before knocking him down. At that point, other students jumped in and helped subdue the shooter.

Bucking the narrative

Sadly, these stories of public shootings follow a familiar storyline by now.

Homosexuality and Eating Shrimp: What Does the Bible Say?

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Picture of an open bible

Same-sex marriage is in the news. That’s partly the result of various national-level religious liberty debates stemming from Christian photographers, florists and bakers conscientiously declining to participate in homosexual marriage ceremonies – and the lawsuits that they’ve had to face.

With all the conversation on the topic, I’m sure this has happened to many of you: you’re online, reading articles on these stories, when you decide to read the comments section.

“Sure Leviticus says homosexuality is a sin; but it also says eating shellfish and wearing clothes made out of different types of thread are sin.

The American Church Has a Choice to Make

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Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, has been consistently coming out with interesting and relevant perspectives on the Christian faith, the general culture and the interaction between the two. I enjoyed sitting down with him in Nashville recently for an interview on his popular internet-based show.

In a piece published last week for Christianity Today, “4 Trends for Churches to Consider,” Stetzer builds on some of the points he presented earlier this year refuting the myth about the “dying” American Church.

Who’s the Better Christian?

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Let’s try to guess which of these two men is doing more to expand the Kingdom of God.

We’ll call the first guy Kevin. Kevin gets up every morning at 5:30 a.m. and gets ready for a long commute into his downtown office where he works in middle management in the banking industry. He works hard because he has a family to support: a wife, three kids and a dog.

Calvin is our second guy – “Pastor C,” as the kids in youth group call him.

The Man with One Ear

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I’ve always been fascinated by the story of Peter cutting off the ear of the servant of the high priest. It’s by no means a major part of the Passion, but it communicates quite a bit in just a few short sentences.

According to John’s Gospel (18:10), the servant’s name was Malchus.

But that’s all we know about this man, except that Jesus stepped in and miraculously healed him.

We don’t know anything about his family, his background or what happened to him after that fateful Thursday night.

What’s the Best Christian Response to the Mistreatment of Homosexuals?

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In various countries around the world, homosexuals are being beaten and even killed with their governments’ approval.

For example, in Nigeria, a recent law criminalizing homosexuality provides punishments, like whippings, to men who are caught having homosexual relations. The New York Times reports that crowds in the African nation are demanding their local officials to go even further, because local Islamic law requires the penalty for such an act to be death by stoning. In many places these same types of punishments are also meted out for other nonmarital sexual behaviors.

Is It Wrong to Meet with Your Ideological Opposite?

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I once met with a well-known homosexual activist. I remember feeling the Lord’s prompting to reach out to this man – and pushing off that meeting for months. (I recently shared more about this meeting with the Catalyst conference via video.)

You might have also heard in the news awhile back that I’ve met with abortion rights groups in hopes that we might find a way to realize their stated goal of making abortion more rare.